Thursday, 2 October 2008

Is it turning into a landslide?

Barack Obama's lead in the polls and in the battleground states appears to be increasing, and it's looking ever more like he's on for a substantial victory next month.

Real Clear Politics has Obama ahead in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico, all states won by Bush four years ago. McCain is also only just a whisker ahead in Missouri and Indiana - the latter a state which Bush won by more than 20 points in 2004.

Electoral Vote has similar figures, although they have North Carolina listed as a tie. Their electoral college count shows Obama currently on 338 and McCain on 185, with the 17 votes for North Carolina down as a tie.

Those figures are backed up by the latest national polls. CBS/New York Times has Obama leading McCain 50-41 while AP/GfK has it 47-41. It looks like Obama has benefitted both from the financial chaos (and McCain's bizarre antics in response to it) and from his performance in the opening debate.

Things look even worse for the Republicans if you look at the situation in the Senate races. Republican incumbents are currently behind in Alaska, Oregon, North Carolina and New Hampshire, while open Republican seats in Colorado, New Mexico and Virginia look like almost certain gains for the Democrats. Republican candidates in Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and Minnesota (where comedian Al Franken is the Democratic candidate) are also in very tight races.

It looks like Republicans are in for a real pasting on November 4. And, short of a disastrous performance by Obama in one of the final two debates or possibly a major terrorist attack in America, it's difficult to see what they can do to turn things round.


Hywel said...

If Indiana goes it is pretty much all over - I think LBJ is the only Democrat to have won there since the war.

Jock Coats said...

I was with a friend who works in Social Sciences at Oxford University and does a lot of work with US political types, pollsters and so on. He was very concerned the other night that private polling is actually showing quite a strong lead for McCain and that this is being hushed up, because the reason is the "would you vote for a black man" question - which nobody of course is even asking in the mainstream polling.

If this is the case, I would have thought that revealing this polling evidence would be the best tactic to embarrass as many as possible into disagreeing with such sentiments. But apparently it is a widespread response.

Bernard Salmon said...

Jock, two points. Firstly, if there is a 'silent racist' effect in the presidential polls, why are the Republicans not doing better in the congressional races where that factor doesn't apply? And to what extent are racist voters not voting for Obama likely to be balanced out by an increased turnout among ethnic minorities?

Liberal Neil said...

The polls are certainly looking very strong for Obama (and for a number of key downticket races).

Importantly polling on other questions - favourability, issues etc also backs this up as well as pollingon how motivated each candidate's supporters are.

HOWEVER the polls have been volatile - with a strong initial position for Obama swinging the other way just a few weeks ago before moving back again.

We won't really know the impact of the 'Bradley effect' until we see the results, nor of the ground campaign where the Democrats do now seem to have a pretty big advantage.

It looks good, but there is time to go yet and a lot might happen in that time.

Hywel said...

McCain is reported as shutting down his Michigan operation and switching resources to Virginia which doesn't suggest they have positive private polling.

Obama doesn't just have a lead - he holds all the cards going into the final few weeks. Money, activists, organisation, preparation.

Of course Neil's right - there is time for things to change but as the days tick by it needs something bigger and bigger to happen.

There is some evidence that the Bradley effect is diminishing in recent elections (either because polling is more sophisticated or because people are telling the truth) - again though this is the big test case. And Bradley effect or no if McCain is pinning his efforts on Virginia they elected a black governor back in 1989.

The ground campaign is particularly crucial in that regard - AIUI a key tactic is to send white canvassers to wavering white voters who are seen as reassurance that it's "safe" to vote for a black man. Lieberman and especially the Clintons will be particularly important in that respect.

Bernard Salmon said...

Lieberman? He's backing McCain.

Hywel said...

For Lieberman read Biden.

For some strange reason I get the two mixed up.
Question 1: If the Democrats had a 55/45 senate majority would they still be tolerating Lieberman in their ranks?

Question 2: If 500 votes had gone different in Florida would we now be discussing to possibility of President Lieberman?

Bernard Salmon said...

1) I suspect Lieberman's days as a de facto Democrat are numbered regardless of how the Senate ends up.
2) I suspect Vice-President Lieberman would have been in with a strong shout of the nomination under those circumstances. And we probably wouldn't have heard much of the junior Senator from Illinois, as I doubt he'd have had a keynote convention speech in 2004 under President Gore.
But equally, Hillary Clinton, Kerry and Edwards might have launched their first presidential bids this time and might have been able to take it.

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